Sugar Land purchases old prison grounds

The Sugar Land City Council will purchase 258 acres of land at the closed Central Unit prison facility at Hwys. 6 and 90 for nearly $6 million.

The council unanimously approved a resolution May 17 to acquire the land, while city staff expect finalize the deal July 29.

Sugar Land in negotiations to acquire prison land Sugar Land City Council is moving forward with the purchase of the 258-acre Central Unit prison site near Sugar Land Regional Airport.[/caption]

“There’s a lot of work yet to be done but securing the property and doing it at an affordable price was the first step,” City Manager Allen Bogard said.

The city plans to build a public safety training center on 22 acres of the land, while 121 would be reserved for a potential business park.

“We do know that the Sugar Land Business Park [near the intersection of Hwy. 90 and Dairy Ashford Road] is nearing capacity and so there is a demand and desire for light industrial development in Sugar Land,” said Phil Wagner, the city’s public and private partnerships manager .

He said the public safety training center could include a shooting range, a driving track and a burning tower for police and fire personnel. The city is planning a preliminary engineering workshop to discuss the training center in June.

Additionally, 95 acres would be used for access and development for the Sugar Land Regional Airport. Wagner said that could include a taxiway and extra hangars.

Twenty-one acres of the property are undevelopable wetlands costing $1,000. Wagner said the state wanted the city to buy the land in totality.

The land is owned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice until the city takes over.

The prison opened in 19-9 and closed in 2011. It has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” program.

Although the city will be clearing 96 buildings on the site, it is not allowed to modify the main prison building because it was designated a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark in 2003.

The city qualified for a Federal Administration Aviation grant that will cover nearly 90 percent of $3.3 million for the land, which means the city will ultimately be responsible for just over $3 million for the purchase.

“I am so excited about this,” council member Amy Mitchell said.